Embrace Hope, Nostalgia and Wonder with These Surreal Retro-Futuristic Collages

At a time when a great deal of art is looking to digital technology and code, Adelaide-based artist Karen Lynch is proving that helping audiences escape to the surrealism of alternate worlds can be achieved just as, if not more, effectively with less complicated means of producing collage. Combining found objects from old magazines and online archives, her collages mix outer space with home décor, mountains with pelicans.

The Beginning or The End

Karen Lynch, who goes by the name Leaf and Petal Design, is well celebrated all over the world, particularly so on Instagram where she shares her work.

Explore Karen’s collages in the endless possibilities of space, and the beautiful landscapes and colours of designs from bygone times, and you’ll rediscover something very real: human wonder, nostalgia and hope.
We met up with the artist to talk about her work.

Field Trip

THE PLUS: How do you go about creating these? Tell us about the process of putting together a collage.
Karen Lynch:
It usually starts from one key found image. It might be a person, or the side of a skyscraper or a sunset but more often than not it is a foreground element. I have a huge library of vintage books, magazines, catalogues and tourist souvenir books, and I also use my own photos and stock images. It’s really a matter of layering on top of or behind that key image and juxtaposing elements. It is a jigsaw puzzle of mix and matching. When something seems to work, only then will I glue it down, or if something is still missing, I might scan it into Photoshop and manipulate the size or colour or add another image in until I’m happy. So the end result could be 100% analogue or a hybrid of both analogue and digital collage.

TP: What do you like about vintage and retro times?
The beautifully dressed women, hats, the big cars, the home décor, the architecture, the perfect colours.

Desert Dream

TP: What is surrealism’s purpose in today’s world?
Surrealism is about an escape, dreaming, hopes and possibilities. In my art, I like to create a final image which we know in reality is an impossibility but somehow fits to look like it could exist as part of an alternate world.
TP: What’s your opinion about nostalgia? What kind of emotion is it?
I like to see it as a celebration of the past. It’s heart-warming and tear-jerking for sure.


TP: Your work features a lot of space – what inspires you about outer space?
If you look through magazines from the late 1940s through to 1969 and beyond, people were obsessed with space. It featured heavily in advertisement and children’s books, as well as in magazines and movies. I don’t know if I would be brave enough to become a space tourist but it is the endless possibilities and the idea of a voyage of discovery that’s exciting to me.
TP: What are the key ingredients of a good collage? 
A great colour palette. Manipulating scale to give extra interest. Perspective and focus. Lines like architectural, structural, or horizons. Using clear and strong elements, in my case, vintage ones.

Bruised Landscape
TP: You use lots of pastel colours – how do you choose your colour palettes?
I adore the colours you find in Kodachrome photography and try and keep to them as much as I can. I might choose colours from a sunset or a window display, but a lot is through experience when you know what works or what people want. Combinations like red and aqua, or pink and mint always look great.

TP: What else do you create? 
I’m fairly collage-obsessed at the moment but in the past I’ve dabbled with photography and written blogs and short stories.

Curiosity and Confidence
Indigo dreams
Kaleidoscope Dreamers
Neon Highway
Serenade to Saturn
The Architect
Urban Sonata
Valiant Venezia
What is it about sunsets